Food poisoning has been a major food safety concern of Japanese people surveyed almost annually since 2008, according to a study.
Food poisoning topped the list for a food safety hazard causing concern in 10 of the last 11 surveys from 2004 to 2018. However, the number of cases has decreased in the past 15 years with 1,330 infections in 2018, reports study published in the journal administered by the Japan Science and Technology Agency.
Researchers looked at the 15 years since the Food Safety Commission of Japan (FSCJ) was founded in 2003. This study explores changes in risk perceptions using the results of the annual food safety monitoring survey published by the FSCJ.
The survey asks 470 people annually about hazards associated with food safety; such as food additives, pesticide residues, antimicrobial resistance, contaminants such as cadmium, methylmercury and arsenic, food poisoning due to microorganisms, and chemicals from food contact materials.
One-time events and concerns that arise
A score was given for each hazard with the respondent giving 0 points for “I don’t know about the harm” and “I don’t care at all,” one for “I hardly care,” two for “I’m not sure,” Three for “I’m a little concerned “, and four points for” I’m very concerned. “
In the 2004 survey, contaminants including cadmium, methylmercury and arsenic and pesticide residues were ranked first and second. However, they have gradually gone down since 2008, and are below fifth since 2016.
In 2011 the hazard category ranks first with radioactive materials; However, it has steadily dropped and is ranked lower than fifth since 2017. The 2011 survey was conducted right after the nuclear accident in Fukushima that year. In contrast, food poisoning due to harmful microorganisms ranked fourth in 2004 and the first since 2008 except in 2011.
In 2017 and 2018, allergens appeared in the top five issues while mycotoxins have been around for the last three years.
Researchers also saw differences in levels of attention based on work experience and gender.
Concerns about food additives and pesticide residues being intentionally added to food and controlled gradually diminished. This score is much lower in men than in women. The scores were also lower for individuals with professional experience in the food sector than for those with no experience. Attention to contaminants is lower for men with professional experience.
Scientists say the gaps between food specialists and other attributes in basic recognition of risk make it difficult to communicate effectively among a wide variety of interested individuals.
“To improve the quality of risk communication in the field of food safety, it is necessary to provide scientific knowledge and information on food safety management mechanisms for individuals who do not have professional experience in the food sector, taking into account changes in information media and their impact on risk perceptions,” they added.
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